USAF aggressor F-16s arrive at Williamtown for Diamond Shield

A US Air Force 18th Aggressor Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon at Williamtown. (US Air Force)

US Air Force personnel from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska have touched down at RAAF Base Williamtown for Exercise Diamond Shield.

With a support team of about 150 personnel, more than 20 pilots assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron will be working with the Royal Australian Air Force’s Air Warfare Centre.

Besides the 18th Aggressor Squadron’s F-16s, RAAF F/A-18A classic Hornet, F/A-18F Super Hornet, E-7A Wedgetail, AP-3C Orion and C-130J Hercules aircraft will take part in Exercise Diamond Shield, along with Air Affairs Australia Learjets.

Diamond Shield is one of the practical components of the air warfare instructors’ course, graduates of which are experts in ADF capabilities and integration across the services, and have technical mastery of their own roles, platforms and systems.

“For the first time, we are bringing together different Defence units in the warfare space to integrate their roles in a process of continuous improvement to match the fifth-generation platforms coming into service,”Air Commodore Joe Iervasi, commander of the Air Warfare Centre, said.

“As our platforms interact electronically, so too must the human elements to get the greatest benefit from this technology. The air warfare instructors’ course developed by the Air Warfare Centre has done that, and over the next few months each component of the course will prepare our instructors to be effective in the integrated air warfare space.

“Graduates will provide leadership in the development of future tactics, and help determine how those tactics can be used to enhance the ADF’s joint warfighting capability using fifth-generation platforms.”

Exercise Diamond Shield runs until March 31.


  1. beagle says

    Pretty sure these are the ones that the RNZAF were going to get back in early 2000’s before their prime minister said no.

  2. Jasonp says

    beagle – those jets were Block 15 A/B models originally built for Pakistan which the US Navy picked up for their Aggressors based at Fallon. These USAF Aggressors are later model Block 30/40 C/D models.

  3. G4george says

    The US navy has half a dozen Super Hornets in Townsville at the moment, does AA know what they are up to?

  4. Mick181 says

    My god we’ve been invaded and surrounded, F-22s at Tindal, F-16s in Williamstown and S Hornets in Townsville, whats next B-2s in Perth?
    No, great to see these visits only makes the RAAF better trained and prepared.

  5. says

    There will be a Rhino at the GP this year as well.Imagine what people around Albert Park will think.It smashes the classic for noise.Tear it up fellas.

  6. PAUL says

    Nice looking F16ski…. soon I’m sure Aussie will eventually have its own Red Flag or Yellow flag & use all that unpopulated desert area around the middle of Australia….. Probably more similar to the hostile middle east than Nevada as a training ground. Friendly Mig & Shukoi operators from Malaysia & India could be the aggressor squadron.

  7. Mick181 says

    We do have a equiv to Red Flag its called Pitch Black and they use huge swaths of the Australian outback to exercise over. At this time the major differences would probably be the range control would be nowhere near as advanced as what it is in Nevada but would be improving all the time and it is multi-national with ac from the US nearly every year, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia we have even had Flankers from Indonesia here. And when the ADF get new Med range SAMs next decade that will make it even more interesting. Of course we can’t afford a full time aggressor sqns.

  8. Paul says

    Paul, Based on the noise of the F-35 at Avalon (the Saturday display) residents of Albert Park will be even less impressed in a few years time. Bring it on!

  9. Hayden.R says


    are these US navy/marines super hornets or RAAF super hornets from tindal, i went up for the airshow last year and there were 5-10 tindal super hornets.

  10. Mick181 says

    C4 George
    Theres no permantly based Super Hornets at Tindal only a sqn of Classic Hornets.

  11. B. Harrison says

    With the demise of the FA-18 operationally over the next few years, maybe it’s an opportunity to keep 6-8 as an aggressor squadron as while they are old aircraft now, they have had significant upgrades and are very reliable. As a side piece, I remember being at the first Adelaide Grand Prix in 1985 where the RAAF flew one about 500 feet off the starting grid at around 500 knots. It made the formula 1 cars sound like toys. To think we bought 75 of them and still, 71-72 are still flying is a testament on what a reliable (2 engined?) aircraft they are.
    As I have been told, there are a number of the later delivered FA-18’s that still have a fair bit of life left in them once they are retired. Just a thought on a Australian aggressor squadron.

  12. says

    B Harrison,it would be to expensive just to keep 6-8 classics as aggressors.Great idea tho,but having US aggressors come down and train with us is a more valuable.

  13. Jasonp says

    The true training value of an ‘Aggressor’ capability lies in the fact that crews who are posted to that unit for 2-3 year tours live, eat and breath adversary tactics, right down to the way their squadron facilities are set up, the aircraft ESM systems/threat libraries, and the launch/shoot parameters built into their missile emulators.

    Few air forces can afford to dedicate the resources required to maintain such a capability – even the US DoD can’t run all the aggressor units they want, hence the USAF and USN sub-contracts to companies like Textron (ATACs) and Draken.

    It’s not as simple as “keeping a few Hornets” and having regular RAAF pilots fly them for exercises.

  14. PAUL says

    Yes imagine a legacy Hornet fitted with the latest variant available for the F404 Turbofan which is about 20,000lbs of thrust or more. Would be a major increase in power to weight & performance!